THE various figures of manege, together with the low airs of the high school, constitute the circus equitation. This differs from the équitation savante in that while the one keeps the horse always in the state of equilibrium, the other neglects this, and depends for the horse's training upon straps, tricks, and the memory of caresses or severe punishments. Nevertheless, Franconi, Baucher, and Fillis have shown in the beautiful circuses of European capitals some horses which, always in the state of equilibrium, executed these low airs so brilliantly that they have never been equaled.
Baucher offered his system to the different cavalries of Europe, but without success. Fillis, though not accepted in France, became instructor to the officers of the royal chevaux-legérs in Belgium, and also taught for several years at the cavalry school in Russia. Both these grand masters were continually studying the application of their principles; and because of their great reputations, they were able to obtain, for education or purchase, some animals of a quality, both of temper and of conformation, very near perfection, and in every way greatly superior to the general run of horses.
I, on the other hand, like other artists, always poor, have always been criticized for the inferior natural quality and conformation of the horses which I have trained. I have, therefore, amidst all the confusion of theories, methods, and principles, devoted my life to training imperfect animals. In so doing, I have had opportunity to discover what is right and what wrong in the methods of my predecessors. They selected perfect animals and taught them the low airs in the state of equilibrium. I have taken imperfect animals, and by means of the low airs, using these as gymnastics, have corrected their imperfections, and brought them to a conformation that makes the state of equilibrium possible.
I have been so invariably successful in correcting and educating the horses which I have owned, or which have been sent to me for training, that as early as in March, 1888, a commission of the United States Army was sent to my school to examine into my system. A portion of their report appears in the Appendix.
The modus operandi of my method, and the progression of movements of the low airs which I employ as a system of physical culture for the horse, are best explained by specific examples. In general, the scientific equitation can locate the cause of lameness or unsoundness more precisely than can a veterinarian, since the latter has neither the equestrian tact nor the accuracy of seat to detect the member which is not acting as it should. For instance, a horse has some disease, no matter what, affecting the left fore foot. A veterinary treats the trouble, but the horse, during the treatment, shrinks from putting its weight on the lame foot. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the left fore leg, therefore, doing less than their full duty, become more or less atrophied, while the right fore leg, doing more than its share, becomes correspondingly developed. When, at length, the diseased foot is cured and once more sound, no trouble appears so long as the horse stands still. But as soon as it begins to move, the weaker left leg fails to stride symmetrically with the stronger right. The trouble is, however, no longer in the foot, but in the muscles, ligaments, or tendons of the leg. The remedy is, then, gymnastic, to bring the weak organ to the level of the rest of the body. This belongs to the master of the scientific equitation. It is exactly like the case of a man kept in bed with a broken limb, whose physician gives him at first massage, and then, after the bone is knit, turns him over to an instructor in gymnastics, who, by flexions and exercises, restores the energy and elasticity which the patient lost during his enforced rest.
I have, I have said, always been criticized for not buying good and sound animals for myself, as other masters do. But to educate such an animal teaches the rider nothing. It is too easy. The master does not prove his own ability nor the practical usefulness of his art by training horses already made nearly perfect by nature. The test of his science and his utility lies in his ability to correct the natural defects of an ordinary animal and make it useful.
But how can a teacher of this art direct his pupils, if he does not himself understand the importance, direct or indirect, of what he teaches? "An ounce of prevention," says the proverb, "is worth a pound of cure." Riding-masters, teach your learners correct seat and correct effects, in order that they may not themselves lame their horses!
To take now an example of a very different sort, I have seen, in the course of a lifetime passed in studying horses, some that were near perfection after their education was finished, but not before. One and all, before they were trained, they had some defect of conformation or of temper. Furthermore, I have particularly noticed that physical defect has a great influence on the temper. For if a horse has the conformation and the strength to accomplish what the rider asks, it makes no difference what the service may be, the horse will try its best if only it is treated with humanity and intelligence. But if a horse is weak, or badly conformed, or too young for the task put upon it, notwithstanding all its good-will it cannot obey for lack of physical power. It tries, fails, and refuses. If then, the rider, neither humane nor intelligent, treats the horse brutally or unjustly, the animal's retentive memory stamps the lesson on its temper. It becomes restive, vicious, dangerous.
My long observation and study convince me, moreover, that not only does the physical strength of the horse affect its temper; the very temper itself is created by the treatment which the animal receives. This treatment, more or less practical, more or less reasoned, is the horse's education. The memory of wrong treatment is what fixes the instinctive reactions which we term defense, restiveness, and vice. Is it not, after all, precisely on this basis that we direct the child's development to manhood?
Or to take yet another example illustrative of my principles, every horse, like every man, though on the whole well conformed, is virtually never exactly the same on the two sides of the body. We ourselves are either right- or left-handed, and usually right- or left-legged. We seldom have quite the same power or freedom in one set of members as in the other.
This asymmetry of the two halves of the body is, in the horse, known as "side." All methodists, from Xenophon to the present day, have recognized the defect. I shall not dwell on the various causes which various writers have assigned for the trouble. It is sufficient to point out that it exists, undeniably; and that it appears at birth. The young creature, therefore, its "side" being uncorrected, forms the habit of moving unsymmetrically. Certain of its members, thereupon, being slightly less energetically employed than their mates, develop less strength. In the end, slight atrophies result which derange the precise equality of the strides, steps, and gaits. The horse does not go sound, and is condemned as lame. Naturally, such "side" is a more serious matter for a horse than for a man, since the horse gets its utility from its locomotion and the movement of its four members.
This inequality, this atrophy, is not easily located by the non-professional, often not even by the veterinarian. The inequality or the lameness is apparent. But which leg is at fault, or where in the stride the derangement occurs, is, in the opinion of competent veterinarians, a very complicated problem. The cause may be in a hind leg, while the effect appears in a perfectly sound front one.
Recognizing the importance of this matter, and interested also because of my ownership of a great variety of horses in my different schools, I have studied the problem deeply, and as the result of wide experience aided by experiments, I have developed a system which was adopted by General P. H. Sheridan, after a favorable report from a board of army officers.
This system involves locating the derangement, discovering its causes, and then repairing the defect by means of the low airs of the high school. A complete account is beyond the scope of the present work, but I shall be glad to supply complete information to the interested reader. I touch upon the matter here to emphasize the difference between myself, on the one hand, and Baucher and Fillis, on the other. They employ these airs of manege for the sake of public exhibition. I use them as a means of correction or development. I want a horse, sound, strong, and well developed, in order to have a square and equal walk, trot, or gallop. Since it is impossible to find a horse having these qualities by nature, I attain my object by means of gymnastic exercises derived from the movements of the high school.
I have, then, invented no new air of high school, though I have complicated some old ones, but always for the sake of more strength, more precision, more energy. I begin my course of training always by the work with the longe, the horse turning the circle successively at the two hands. It is during this first part of the horse's education that I make my diagnosis of the case, and my prognosis. That done, I attack immediately the local cause of any derangement.
For example, the horse, walking round the circle, proves weak in loins, coupling, hind quarters. I load it progressively with a proper weight, and watch its progress. When it carries the weight energetically with its hind quarters, I make it walk backward, a few steps at a time, several times at each lesson. When its progress becomes still more evident, I mount and continue the education by flexions, pirouettes, reversed pirouettes, and backing, until finally I come to the assemblage. When this state is attained, I use the piaffer from the beginning, progressively. When a saddle horse can execute the piaffer, the hind hand has all the strength needed to carry weight over wall, hurdle, or ditch.
Another example. My horse shows that it is weak in its left stride. I immediately begin the Spanish walk, demanding more movement of the left front leg than of the right. Then I exact progressively the Spanish trot, provided that the trouble is localized in the left shoulder, a point easy to verify by the lack of contact upon the left rein. How? Well, if the contact upon the left bar gives the fixed point at the atlas region, this fixed point is the center from which originates the action of the two muscles, rhomboideus and mastoido-humeralis, which by their contraction raise the left front leg and extend it forward. But, of course, if the shoulder is weak, the horse is not willing to move this left shoulder or leg, and so refuses the contact, in order not to establish the fixed point from which the action starts. But if the difficulty is not in the shoulder, but in the arm from the humerus to the knee, by a little more steady flexion with my rein, I flex the arm upon the humerus. The head, being now more flexed, gives the fixed point to the rhomboideus, but prevents the action of the mastoido-humeralis. The leg, therefore, raises, with the arm extended and the knee flexed. Or, again, suppose the derangement is located in the right trapezius, which gives to the raised front leg the time of the three movements of the forward stride. I keep a more persistent flexion to the right, in order that the muscles of the neck, by their arrangement and their connections with the trapezius, may force the trapezius to remain contracted for a longer time. So as the right fore leg lifts, flexes, and extends, the trapezius keeps it extended. Thus, the trapezius is especially exercised, and in the course of time becomes developed to the degree needed to give as long a stride on that side as on the other.
Still another case. The stride of the left front leg is longer forward than that of the right, and consequently gains more ground than its mate. Naturally, then, the right hind foot, having less open space in front of it, cannot reach out so far as the foot on the other side. The strides are, therefore, unequal; and the horse is judged to be lame in the right hind leg. Yet it is not. The short stride of the right hind leg is only the effect. The cause of the trouble lies either in the fore leg, or in the shoulder, or in the muscles which operate the right fore leg. But the horse, being lame, balances itself with head and neck, so that it is impossible to locate the trouble. Paralyze this balance, and the horse, if not unequally conformed, will stride squarely. It merely had a bad habit.
In a word, find the derangement, its location, its cause, by means of effects which appear only when the horse moves. Then treat the cause by means of the low airs, using these as gymnastic exercises, a method of physical culture.
By means of the flexions of the neck and the lower jaw, by the pirouette, the reversed pirouette, and the movement backward, we have now suppled the different parts of the horse's body. We have not, however, yet suppled the limbs. And since these are the essential agents in locomotion, these also must be trained to execute their strides without stiffness, since this would cause constraint, lameness, and inequality.
For this, we have the same means of controlling the horse as before—the right and left reins, the right and left legs of the rider, and his accuracy of seat. The hands holding the reins are in their regular position when they are at the same height as the elbows. When they are lower than the elbows, the position is called "hands down," and produces a special effect. Hands higher than the elbows is "hands up," and this also has a special effect. These three effects of the hands are communicated to the lower jaw, to the head, to the neck, and to the fore hand, and act by the play of the various articulations of these members.
It is evident, however, that these different effects of the hands are not understood by the horse; so that it is only by means of exercises to supple the different joints and to make it understand the meaning of these effects of hand, that we at length obtain that complete command over the fore legs which is the sine qua non of controlled locomotion.
The same principles apply also to the horse's hind legs. The rider's legs produce three different effects according to their position on the horse's flanks. Four inches behind the girths, pressure of the rider's legs stimulates the horse's rear limbs to a movement of impulsion forward. Near the girths, this pressure maintains this action of the horse's hind legs, equally forward, with the same elevation, and at the same speed. But the rider's legs pressed three inches back of the first position will draw the horse's hind legs forward under its body, and result in a position which brings the forward impulse to a stop, or even produces motion backward. Only by exercises suppling the hind legs do we make the horse understand the meaning of these effects.
There is no other name for these exercises for suppling the limbs except the French name jambettes, from jambes, meaning legs.
This exercise of the jambettes is, however, highly useful for still another purpose. Since the horse's equilibrium is the sine qua non of the équitation savante, it is very necessary that the rider should be able, at will, to place the fore legs of his mount perpendicular to its body and to the ground. Control of each several limb by means of reins and legs makes it possible for the cavalier to rectify immediately a wrong position of any one. When, therefore, the horse has all its legs perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another, there exists the state of equilibrium with correct location of the center of gravity. The rider's seat is accurate, so that a transfer of his weight, forward, to the right, to the left, or backward, impels the horse in one of these directions.
The exercises commence with the horse standing still. The front legs are given two kinds of jambette, the first of which involves the flexion of the scapulo-humeralis and the radio-humeralis.
A great many trainers give this exercise on foot. The right rein, preferably at first the snaffle, is held in the right hand. The trainer, holding the whip in his left hand, touches very gently the horse's right leg, repeating very gentle strokes until the animal lifts its right fore leg. This action, when secured, is immediately rewarded by the caress.
The process is now continued until the leg is held in position, foot off the ground, knee forward, lower leg down. Very soon, the mere presence of the whip accompanied by a partial flexion with the right rein, will be sufficient to maintain the leg flexed in the air. Then the whip is progressively suppressed, and the jambette asked by a partial flexion by means of the right rein. At this point, everything is reversed, and the jambette of the left fore leg taught in the same way. The great difficulty is to discover just the spot on the horse's leg where the touch of the whip will best stimulate the movement. This cannot be told in advance. Each horse has its peculiar sensibility, which must be discovered by experiment.
When the jambette both to the right and to the left is obtained by means of the snaffle, it is asked in the same way by the bit. When everything is thoroughly mastered with the trainer on foot, the latter mounts, and repeats the exercise by partial flexions of the neck, without using the whip. If, however, the horse does not understand when first mounted, it can be helped out by touches of the whip on shoulder or leg. But the whip should be eliminated as soon as possible.
Another way of obtaining the same jambette is to begin mounted. It is evident that, with the horse standing, a partial flexion of the neck to the right will shift on to the left fore leg the weight formerly carried by the right fore leg. This, therefore, being unloaded, tends to be raised from the ground. If, now, the trainer, at the first sign of this lifting, rewards the horse with caresses, the latter will very soon comprehend what is wanted; and, at the partial flexion of the neck, will hold up the right fore leg. (Figure 27.) The same means reversed operates to secure the elevation of the left fore leg.
During this practice on the jambettes, the rider's legs maintain the horse standing and straight, and prevent movement backwards. Here, then, are the principles which obtain the flexion at the scapulo-humeralis articulation.
When this form of the exercise is well understood, the trainer proceeds to the second form, in which the entire fore leg is extended forward.
For this, the rider's hand, in calling for the partial flexion of the neck, is first carried at the regular position, or, if necessary, a little lower. This position of the hand gives the fixed point at the atlas region, and thus acts directly on the rhomboideus muscle, which by its contraction raises the fore leg, and on the trapezius which holds the fore leg raised and flexed. In the meantime, the low position of the hand, as the flexion is asked, inhibits the action of the mastoido-humeralis. If now the hand is raised progressively from its low position, the tension from the fixed point at the atlas region will be communicated to the mastoido-humeralis , which will enter into action, extend the entire fore leg forward, and hold it there so long as the fixed point remains at the atlas region. This exercise is, then, the second form of the jambette. (Figure 28.)
These jambettes will teach the horse to raise its fore legs and to extend them at the effect produced by the hands of the rider, both in motion and standing still. By this means the fore legs are so placed as to receive and support their proper portion of the entire load. The partial flexions used to obtain a single jambette to the right or left are now replaced by a direct flexion of the lower jaw and neck, which gives the alternate jambettes of the two limbs. By the two positions of the hands, low for the flex- ion of the scapulo-humeralis articulation, high for the extension of the lower leg, these movements are made to occur alternately, both with the horse standing and in motion.
There are, then, three effects of the hand holding the reins. The first prevents movement forward. The second directs the body when in motion. The third raises and sustains the front hand either standing or moving.
The jambettes of the hind legs are obtained by the effects of the rider's legs, and involve nothing more than a flexion of a limb sustained for a short time. As soon as the effect has ceased, the horse's leg returns to the ground for the next stride. (Figure 29.)
The value of the jambettes of the hind legs is that they enable the rider to set the limbs at right angles to the ground and parallel to each other when the horse is standing; or when the horse is in motion, they enable the rider to secure an equal impulse from both hind legs.
For it is obvious that it is not by the lifted limb that the horse sends its body forward, but by the other which is on the ground. For example, the left hind foot cannot be lifted, unless the right hind foot is in contact with the ground, in order that the right leg may bear the load which the left has been supporting. The right leg is, therefore, in position for the impulsion. But when this impulsion is finished, the left leg will have returned to the ground under the center of gravity and in position, in its turn, to act as support for the load and to deliver the forward thrust during the brief interval when the right leg is in the air. For this reason, it is essential that each hind leg, after the jambette, shall return to the ground, either at the perpendicular or forward of it, never behind.
To obtain the jambette of the right hind leg with the horse standing, the rider, by the effect of his left leg, fixes the horse's left hind leg upon the ground, and with his right, asks the lifting of the right hind leg. The rider's desire will not at first be understood by the horse. But with repetitions and caresses, the leg soon comes to be held in the air. Then the jambette of the other leg is taught with everything reversed.
When the jambettes of all four legs are thoroughly learned, it then depends simply upon the equestrian tact, the skill in fingering, and the accuracy of seat of the rider, to obtain any desired movement or gait; for the rider now has mastership over his horse's legs, which are its only means of locomotion.
IN the Spanish walk, the horse extends alternately its front legs forward to their full length, holds them extended for a brief time, and then steps forward. Why this gait is called "Spanish" is a mystery. Possibly it is because the Spanish jennet has commonly an exaggerated action forward, though this is never so marked as in the Spanish walk. The air is also sometimes called the "soldier's walk."
The Spanish walk is the first movement of the so-called high school or circus equitation. It is also employed by the reasoned equitation for show purposes. Both schools have used it as a means of teaching the Spanish trot and various other movements of the high school.
I, on the contrary, do not use the Spanish trot for show purposes, but only as a gymnastic exercise, to obtain the greatest muscular development of the animal, to supple various portions of the body, to equalize the strides of the four limbs, and to secure a uniformly energetic action throughout the entire mechanism. For me, therefore, the Spanish walk is not an end, but a means toward the suppleness and activity which results from practicing it.
When the Spanish walk is asked from a horse that is so far educated as to preserve the state of equilibrium during all movements, it becomes a most valuable exercise for instilling the idea of the diagonal, as well as for making the horse energetic and active at the other gaits. But when the Spanish walk is obtained by the aid of straps, whips, or other devices, and is used only for show, the gait is neither attractive to the onlooker nor beneficial to the horse. In these circumstances, though it elevates its front legs, it does not really advance upon them in this position. Instead, it draws its fore legs backward from their extended position and makes only a half-step forward. Meanwhile, the hind legs drag inactive; the head and neck take any sort of position; and the rider's hand, at each step, jerks up and down. The movement becomes a mere grimace, performed under the direction of a rider who knows no better.
To teach the Spanish walk with the whip, the trainer places the horse with its right side close to a fence or wall, and taking the reins in his left hand, touches the horse's left fore leg with the whip. It is difficult to say at just what part of the limb the whip should first make its effect. Some horses will understand quicker if the pastern is touched. For others, the best point is the back tendon, the shin, the fore arm, or the knee. The rider must discover the spot by trial; but the place once found, the first touch of the whip should always be at that point.
When the horse learns to raise its foot from the ground at the contact of the whip, the trainer should at first rest satisfied with this concession. After a time, the horse will hold its leg in the air. If the horse paws the ground, prevent the action, but do not punish. Pawing is merely a sign of impatience, which, however, must not be allowed to become a habit.
When the horse holds its two legs flexed equally well, it has to be taught to extend them forward. For this, the whip is brought to the point of the shoulder, and the trainer perseveres in light, repeated touches until the bent limb is extended forward. As soon as this occurs, the whip is no longer applied at the first point, whatever that was, but the touch at the point of the shoulder obtains both the raising of the leg and its extension.
The horse, having now reached the point where it holds its leg extended, the next matter is the forward step. For this, there are two devices. One of these, adopted by Fillis, is to pull the animal forward with the reins, and thus force it to set down its lifted foot at a point corresponding to the extension of the leg. This method is least satisfactory, because of the long time it takes to make the horse comprehend what is wanted of it.
The second method is easier and more immediately successful. The trainer, always facing backward, reins in his left hand, whip in his right, and keeping the horse's right side against the barrier, chirps with his tongue, and touches the horse's left flank with the whip, until the horse goes forward at an ordinary walk. Little by little, this walk is made slower and slower. At this stage, the two movements are asked together. The horse now moving at the slow walk, the whip touches the point of the shoulder precisely as when the animal was standing still. Thereupon, very shortly, the horse extends its left shoulder and executes the first step of the Spanish walk. If now the trainer knows how, by means of caresses and encouragements, to push this first success, the horse will soon learn to walk with extended fore legs. It is hardly necessary to add that, throughout all this work, the two sides are alternated and treated equally.
After this work on foot has continued until the horse is thoroughly confirmed in the gait, the trainer mounts, and once more obtains the extension by touching the horse's shoulder with the whip. When this much is done well and easily, standing, the rider by means of his legs, sends the horse forward at a slow walk. He then, with the whip, touches the shoulder next the wall shortly before the leg on that side has begun to lift.
When the animal has learned to extend one leg in proper cadence, the trainer reverses sides, and trains the other leg in the same manner.
The movement being executed by either leg alone, the next step is to combine the two. Some trainers, for this, use two whips, one on each side. Others have an assistant mount, while they, on foot, as the assistant sends the horse forward with legs or spurs, touch the shoulders with the whip in proper sequence. Thus the rider raises first one hand and then the other to secure the extension of the corresponding leg, and the trainer on foot supplements this effect by touches of the whip. In this manner, any quadruped can be taught the Spanish walk — elephant, cow, donkey. A great many such creatures have, in fact, been exhibited. But, as Fillis says, a horse doing the Spanish walk is only mechanized to execute grimaces with its front legs while the hind legs drag on the ground. All the work has been directed at the front legs to the complete neglect of the hind hand. ("Why-Not" and "Pierrot" at the Spanish walk, Figures 30 and 31.)
Masters of the scientific equitation object to the foregoing method of obtaining the Spanish walk. Their principles admit teaching this gait only when the horse is mounted, and without any use of the whip. Unfortunately, grand masters of equitation are not born grand masters; and there is not one of us who, at the beginning of our careers, has not spent years over 'the Spanish walk, on foot, with whip, assistant, and the rest. After long and assiduous labor, we find it simple enough to obtain the air mounted, without preparatory work on foot. Of course it is simple for us now. But it was not so simple fifty years ago; and we were proud enough of the first horse that we put through the Spanish walk. I say this in order to encourage the young. When they have had the experience of grand
masters, they also will obtain the step mounted and without aid.
I have now arrived at the point which I had in view, when, in discussing such movements as gallop, change of direction, shoulder-in, and the like, I disputed the ideas of Baucher and Fillis as to the effects which should be applied. The reader will find that what now follows will be clearer if he will refer back to the portions of the book where these topics were earlier discussed.
Baucher and Fillis teach the Spanish walk only when mounted, just as I do. Why, then, have, these grand masters fallen into the error of applying certain principles to certain movements, and yet disallowing these same principles in similar cases?
I quote, by way of example, Baucher's theory of the Spanish walk, the italics mine. To the portion in italics, I call the reader's special attention.
"One understands by Spanish walk the action of a horse which, in walking, gives all the extension possible to each of its front legs alternately. ... In order to obtain this movement, it is first necessary to force the horse to sustain one of its legs in the air. One will arrive at this promptly by flexing the head of the horse, for example, to the right with the rein of the snaffle or the bridle. That position taken, one will carry the hand holding the bridle to the left, while at the same time sustaining the horse strongly by means of his own legs. Nevertheless, the left [leg] will be applied to the flank with more energy, to make opposition to the hand. Little by little, the weight of the horse's right leg will be carried upon the left, and the first [the right] leg will quit the ground."
Fillis teaches exactly the same principles and the same means. My procedure also is precisely like that of the two grand masters. For although there is always the difference that they ask the movement simply as a movement, while I employ it only as a gymnastic exercise and a means to something else, yet our methods of obtaining the action are the same.
But the point I am aiming at is to show that Baucher and Fillis teach that the partial flexion of the head to the right unloads the right front leg, and, of course, loads the left. But why is the head carried to the right to unload the right leg, which is the pivot and support in such different movements as shoulder-in, change of direction, and others; and why is the head carried to the left to load the right shoulder in order to obtain the gallop on the right lead? When we ask the energetic action of one of our own members, so far as we can, we unload it. To kick the ball with the right foot, we put all the weight of the body on the left. Then with the right—"there she goes"! But to load a limb from which we ask energetic action, is a curious kind of logic or science.
Every experienced riding-master will keep reminding his students that there is a point in the educational progress of every horse, where the animal tends to stay behind, rather than upon, the hand. I have spent some years in studying this anomaly. Baucher and Fillis also recognize this difficulty; and recommend suspending further progress and beginning over again to find the contact upon the hand by energetic impulsion at a fast trot or gallop. I too have practiced this method; but I find that after the impulsion at the trot my horse is excited and willful.
I reason the matter out thus. When the horse, at the Spanish walk, raises, extends, and sustains, alternately, the two front legs, it must be evident that this is done by the contraction of the two great muscles of the neck, the rhomboideus and the mastoido-humeralis, which have their fixed point in the atlas region. Now, this gait, obviously, cannot be other than the product of the diagonal effect. If, then, the diagonal effect produces the Spanish walk, and if the Spanish walk cannot be obtained without the fixed point at the atlas region, the contact of the bit must be the consequence of the fixed point, and therefore a result of the Spanish walk. Ergo, if my horse loses the contact with the bit, the Spanish walk will restore it again. This means, deduced from theory, I have found never to fail in practice.
When, therefore, a horse, in the progress of its training, begins to stay behind the hand, the best remedy is the Spanish walk. Thus, no time is lost; and the horse, always under the direction of the diagonal effect, is neither excited nor nervous.
Some ten years ago E. L. Anderson, author of Modern Horsemanship, wrote me, complaining that the Spanish walk and trot disturbs the fineness of a horse's mouth, so necessary for the piaffer and the passage. I replied that this is certainly the fact. In the passage and the piaffer, the exertion being less than in the Spanish walk and trot, the rhomboideus acts more strongly than the mastoido-humeralis. In the Spanish walk and trot, which involve greater exertion, the conditions are reversed, and the mastoido-humeralis acts the more strongly. But it is the action of the first of these muscles, the rhomboideus, that gives the more sensitive contact against the hand.
The Spanish trot is one of the principal low airs of the haut école when exhibited in the circus. For the scientific equitation, it is a valuable gymnastic exercise for developing the horse's muscular energy, upon which it makes very great demands.
It is, like the piaffer and the passage, the manifestation of perfect diagonal action. It differs, however, from the piaffer and the passage, in that, in these two airs of manege, the knees are flexed, while, in the Spanish trot, as in the Spanish walk, the fore legs are fully extended, held in this position for an instant of inactivity, and then made to gain ground forward. The impulse for each step is given by the diagonal hind leg, which rises at the same time with the fore leg on the other side, and is held inactive for the same period. In other words, diagonal bipeds are raised, hang for a moment in the air with the fore leg extended, and then are set down together a step in advance. (Figures 32, 33.)
All the masters of the scientific equitation have agreed that the Spanish trot is next in sequence to the Spanish walk. Baucher and Fillis teach the progression: Spanish walk, Spanish trot, passage, piaffer. I, on the other hand, almost reverse this order, and take first the piaffer, than the passage, finally the Spanish walk and trot.
My reasons for this unusual procedure are these. Neither the Spanish walk nor trot can be obtained until after the horse has been completely established in its collection, assemblage, and equilibrium, so that all the progressive movements which precede the Spanish walk are executed without disturbing the state. But the highest possible manifestation of the state of assemblage is the piaffer. No assemblage, no piaffer, is almost an equestrian proverb. When, therefore, I have the piaffer, I have also the proof of the maximum of assemblage. The center of gravity is fixed exactly below my own vertebral column, while the equilibrium is so perfect that shifting my weight to my right or my left ischium raises alternately the diagonal bipeds of the horse, and passing the load slightly forward causes the horse, without losing cadence or equilibrium, slightly to gain ground forward, and thus change to the passage.
In order to obtain the piaffer, I place the horse's head perpendicular to the ground, but with its neck not quite so high as for the ordinary trot. For if the head and neck are high, the two muscles of the neck, rhomboideus and mastoido-humeralis, by their fixed point at the atlas region, are equally in contact with my hand. This is precisely what I do not want. The rhomboideus will raise shoulder, scapula, and leg; but the mastoido-humeralis will extend the
leg forward. Therefore it follows that I want for the piaffer all the rhomboideus possible, but not too much of the mastoido-humeralis. In order for the foot in the piaffer to return to the same spot from which it was lifted, the horse must lift its fore leg forward, but with flexed knee. Too much action of the mastoido-humeralis will extend the leg so far that I cannot call back the foot to the proper spot and still preserve the speed and cadence of the trot.
When I have secured the piaffer, I add the complication of a very slow forward progress, and have the passage. Then, having the passage, I give a little more impulsion forward, by lifting my coccyx out of the saddle, but not very far or too high, and by shifting the center of gravity a little more forward than for the passage. My horse, thereupon, lifts its head a little higher and finds contact with the bit. The two muscles concerned have now, to an equal degree, their fixed points in the atlas region. The rhomboideus, continuing to act as before, raises the leg. But the mastoido-humeralis, acting more strongly, extends the leg forward, and I have the Spanish trot. I still have the assemblage, but under different conditions.
The teachings of the grand masters for these movements are very different from my own. They, as I have explained, begin with the Spanish walk. The horse's head and neck are up. The point of contact is established. The two neck muscles act together. The leg is raised and extended, stiff throughout its length. The spurs are applied, and push the horse forward upon the front leg, which thereupon returns to the ground, and the first step is taken. The second step follows, secured from the other diagonal biped by the same means, and the walk continues. When the Spanish walk is well understood and properly performed, a stronger impulsion of the hind legs by the spurs precipitates this into the Spanish trot.
The method answers very well thus far. But when, after this training, the rider asks the passage, the horse, as before, extends its front legs, but the equilibrium is not adequate to the movement, and quarrels and fights begin between the trainer and the horse. When, at the end of these fights, the passage is obtained, they still have to be gone through with once more to obtain the piaffer. It all comes about because the masters keep diminishing the extension by diminishing the impulsion. I, on the contrary, beginning the series of movements at the other end, keep increasing the impulsion, always by and in the state of equilibrium.
The Spanish trot needs good conformation and great energy on the part of the horse; and on the part of the rider, a great precision of effects, if the air is to be taught according to the principles of the reasoned equitation. If the horse preserves the condition of equilibrium, the movement is very brilliant and graceful. The animal has an action forward and high, yet without manifesting too severe exertion. The suppleness of the well-cadenced and regular movements is very apparent, and the horse behaves as if it liked the action. But when the equilibrium is absent, then the exertion is very evident. The entire body is stiff. The gait is wearying to the animal, so that it must be sent against the bit by the attack of the spurs. These, in turn, drive it forward so violently that the bit has to act with strong effect, in order to raise the front legs and prevent the action from being forward instead of high. The proficient esquire does not regard this last form of the Spanish trot the perfection of the air. But the beginner is, of course, quite satisfied with it, until after he has trained three horses. Only after he is sure of obtaining the Spanish trot at all, does he begin to see that there is also quality in the work and to try to secure that.
There are also other methods of obtaining the Spanish trot. One of these is based on the system for the Spanish walk in which the trainer on foot touches the horse's shoulders alternately with the whip. The walk being learned by this means, the trainer accelerates the movement, until with practice the horse breaks into a gait which has the cadence and height of the Spanish trot. But since the whip acts on the front hand only, although the fore legs lift high enough, the hind legs drag upon the ground with neither action nor elevation.
Another method is still less scientific. Straps are attached to the pasterns of the front legs. Each of these straps is held by a man, who stands some six feet in front of the horse and facing it. Another man, holding reins and whip, touches one shoulder with the whip, while the man who holds the strap pulls the corresponding foot off the ground and holds the leg extended so long as the whip takes effect. Then the sides are reversed. As soon as the horse raises and extends its fore legs successively, a fourth man is added. This latter from behind, by means of a long whip applied to the hind legs, urges the horse forward, while the two men in front alternately pull the fore legs by the straps.
Horses trained by either of these two methods are stupid, stiff, inactive, made into machines. They have the appearance of slaves, acting against their will. These systems of training belong, of course, solely to the circus. Neither of them is recognized by the scientific equitation.
The Spanish trot, done slowly and in cadence, is considered the most brilliant of the horse's gaits. The action is in complete accord with all the natural powers of the animal; and though the height attained is greater than in the ordinary trot, it is nevertheless entirely possible to the mechanism involved. The air, therefore, can most properly be used as a gymnastic exercise for developing energy and action; and is of special benefit to such horses as are lacking in action, indolent, or given to tripping and stumbling. All this, however, is on the condition that the work with the Spanish trot is so moderate and so progressive that the horse has time to develop the muscular strength needed to execute the air without overmuch effort.
THE flying trot has the same cadence and high step as the Spanish trot, but the movement forward is at greater speed. Since, then, the action is both high and rapid, it demands great strength and energy on the part of the horse. Some hackneys, however, take naturally the flying trot when moderately supported by the contact of the bits.
The air cannot be executed on every kind of ground. If the track is too soft, the hind legs fail to give the needed drive. If too hard, the blow of the front feet on the ground will be painful, and the horse will be discouraged.
The movement is obtained by gradually accelerating the Spanish trot, but without keeping the horse too long at the exercise. Evidently, since this added speed does not alter the elevation of the diagonal bipeds, the gait demands from the esquire or master the greatest accuracy of seat and effects. For the horse, at the flying trot, gets high off the ground; and if the seat of the rider and his effects are not exactly correct and accurate, the horse is disturbed in its cadence and the elevation of the action is lost.
Personally, I should not care for the Spanish trot if it were not the means of obtaining the flying trot, which is extraordinarily enjoyable and exhilarating - though, of course, it is to be indulged in only occasionally when the ground permits. I recommend to the beginner to train several horses at the Spanish trot before attempting the more difficult gait; and furthermore, to make sure that his animal is really able, after suitable practice, to execute the movement without injury or discouragement.
ANOTHER of the low airs is the piaffer, in which the horse trots, with perfect motion of its diagonal bipeds alternately, yet without progress in any direction. The piaffer is, then, one stage beyond the passage, since it presupposes an even more perfect state of equilibrium and a still further development of the horse's muscular strength. All masters regard the piaffer as the foundation, the sine qua non, of the whole scientific equitation.
There are, however, two sorts of piaffer, the slow and the quick. There is also still another kind, that exhibited by a horse which, through excitement, excess of energy, or nervous temperament, cannot stand still. If, then, the rider does not permit the animal to go forward, it prances impatiently on the same spot. Such a mount is annoying and even dangerous to an inexperienced horseman; so that the fault needs to be corrected by a moderate and progressive training, in which the chief difficulty is to stop the creature and to keep it still.
Both the quick and the slow piaffers are recognized by the scientific equitation. They are, indeed, closely related. The quick piaffer, as its name suggests, has the more rapid tempo. It is also commonly the more easily obtained, since it needs less energy on the part of the horse and less tact on the part of the rider. Notice that, although I say less tact, the tact must nevertheless be of a high order.
The slow piaffer is rarely seen. Baucher, Fillis, and myself have obtained it from a limited number of horses, each of which has left a name in the countries where it has been shown. Even the quick piaffer, though attained by a greater number of animals, is no ordinary feat of horsemanship.
It would take volumes to describe and explain the machines, straps, pillars, and other instruments, more or less complicated, which have been employed to obtain an action so agreeable, so elegant, and so difficult as the quick piaffer, and to set forth the theories of able masters with regard to it. But to obtain the slow piaffer, what study is needed, what labor without end ! It is the dream which few, very few, masters have realized.
From Xenophon to Pluvinel, horsemen have sought the rassemble or assemblage. In Pluvinel's time the pillars were used to obtain this state; and as master has succeeded master, some horses have come to the piaffer by this and other mechanical means. Even to-day the pillars are still employed in the military riding-schools of the nations of the world, always for the same reason and to the same effect. Results are uncertain or negative. Brilliant as the outcome may sometimes be, all the evidence goes to show that they are seldom enough anything of the sort. The scientific equitation cannot consider, teach, or admit any such devices.
The quick piaffer has the cadence of the trot, but the movements are rapid, and the action not high. To obtain this type of piaffer, the horse is first brought to the most complete possible state of equilibrium and kept in this condition at the manege walk. The rider then makes repeated attacks with the spurs, first with one, then with the other, in diagonal, at a tempo faster than for the passage and comparable to that of quarter-notes in music. At each attack the spur touches the flank near the girth, while the leg still maintains its pressure, and then moves away no more than the twelfth of an inch.
In the meantime, the rider, by the accuracy of his seat, helped by his fingering on the bridle, receives the excess of action given by the spurs, and holds the center of this action at the center of gravity. He should, thereupon, feel the hind limbs rise and fall alternately, a little in front of the perpendicular. If the hind legs are too far in front of the perpendicular, the horse cannot continue to move, except by contracting the two vasti muscles and rearing high. If when the horse rears, the rider instantly pushes it forward by leaning sharply to the front, the horse will leap. But if the rider does not immediately check the rearing, the horse will fall backward at once or paw the air with its front feet and then perhaps fall. But so long as the rider feels by way of his seat the action of the hind legs, everything is right for a beginning. One must be careful at this stage not to keep the horse too long at the exercise. Five or six repetitions are sufficient.
As for the fingering of the hand on the reins, this has to meet three conditions. The fingers should close on the reins in the same tempo with the diagonal effect of the legs, and should be proportioned to the cadence and strength of these. The fingering must allow the center of gravity, so to say, to filter imperceptibly to the front side of the medial plane, and not under any condition let it get behind this position. A fortiori the fingering must maintain always the assemblage, collection, and equilibrium.
As soon, therefore, as any derangement of these conditions appears, no matter how slight, all diagonal effect must stop instantly, and the horse be sent forward with decision and energy. After a few forward steps, the horse is once more brought to a stand, its calmness reestablished, the equilibrium once more obtained, and the piaffer again asked. As a general principle, every execution of the piaffer, no matter what the stage of progress, should be followed by at least one or two steps forward. Otherwise, the horse would get into the way of stopping with its legs inside the perpendicular, and this, with time and habit, would create the acculer.
When the piaffer is first obtained, no one can prophesy how it will develop. It nearly always begins as the quick form; and with this, at first, the
trainer should be satisfied. He should then proceed, by calmness, moderation, and equestrian tact, to regulate and to establish the rhythm and cadence of each diagonal stride, their height and tempo. With time and moderation, the horse, more or less excited at the beginning, will calm itself, will understand better the cadence demanded by the esquire, and with the habit of calmness will respond to the timing of the effects of hands and legs. Then, by diminishing little by little the rapidity of the step, the horse is finally brought to the slow piaffer, the only really perfect and scientific form.
The slow piaffer is the poetry of action of the horse in motion and is admitted by all schools to be the crown of the scientific equitation. Baucher, Fillis, and I employ the quick piaffer only as a means of obtaining the slow, since we consider this to be the only difficult and desirable form. The two grand masters regard the slow piaffer as the absolute proof of the state of equilibrium in motion, and therefore as the most difficult of the low airs. I too accept the slow piaffer as the proof of equilibrium in motion, but I also employ it as a part of my system of physical culture, to develop the muscles of the horse's back, loins, and haunches. (Figures 34, 35.)
Baucher and Fillis, as I have already explained, do not attempt the piaffer with their horses until the diagonal effect is well understood, as in the Spanish walk, Spanish trot, and passage. Baucher, at the beginning of the training, works his horses for a considerable time on foot, with the whip. All this greatly aids the animals in understanding the movements of the piaffer. Fillis works his horses on foot very much less than Baucher, but has already trained them in diagonal movements before he asks the piaffer. Both, for a horse to be taught the piaffer, select with the greatest care an animal that has, to start with, the required conformation, strength, and soundness, with the moral and physical qualities that give action and energy. And since the horse which has these qualities sustains the state of equilibrium a great deal better than does one of inferior grade, such an animal has really a value equivalent to the time and effort needed to secure the degree of education proved by the slow piaffer. I, on the other hand, do not trouble myself over the choice of a horse. The more inferior it is, the more faulty its conformation, the more interesting becomes its education. The more difficult the work, the more the fun of doing it.
Both Baucher and Fillis have had some violent fights with their horses. They put a young beginner in the saddle to hold the reins, while they, beside the horse on foot, direct its movements with small or long whips. I work very little on foot. I never, or rarely, use a whip. I do all the work myself; and I very seldom, when mounted, have a quarrel with my horse or an act of defense from it. Six months after I begin training, the horse has already ceased to be the caricature which I bought. I explain these points, not to dwell upon my own ideas, but to aid the reader in understanding the different procedures of the different grand masters which I shall now discuss.
The difference between the quick piaffer and the slow is that in the quick piaffer the horse's legs, acting in diagonal, fall more quickly to the ground under the pull of gravity. But in any case, the two diagonal legs which support the body are acting only during the time during which the other two are in the air. Evidently, then, if two diagonal members remain longer upon the ground, the other two will have to stay longer in the air, and vice versa.
Now the question is, which requires the greater effort on the part of the horse, to keep its body balanced for the longer time on two feet, or to hold two legs off the ground and flexed?
But the shorter the time the feet remain in the air, the more rapid is the action, as in the quick piaffer. On the other hand, the slower the action, the greater the loss of the original upward impulse. The more powerful, therefore, must be the muscular contraction and the more accurate the equilibrium. Evidently, then, the horse needs more energy for the slow piaffer than for the quick; and more for the quick piaffer than for the passage, trot, or gallop, since in these last the animal, is helped by its own forward motion. Baucher and Fillis put their horses at the passage, and then, by altering the tempo of their attacks in diagonal, they slackened still further the already slow speed of that air. After a time, the horse would continue the cadence of the passage, but without advancing. Then they had the slow piaffer. Given the qualities of their horses, this was a rational method. But even so, there always came a time of defenses, fights, revolts. If I employed this method with the kind of horses that I train, I should kill the animals before they developed the strength of muscle needed for the slow piaffer!
I hold that it is no special obstacle to the piaffer if the horse's neck and legs are a little stiff, provided always that they are strong enough to serve as supports, two at a time. Where, then, is the great center of development of the forces which keep the whole inert weight balanced on two legs, keep the balance, and return two feet to the ground and raise the other two, without advancing or backing? I answer, at the coupling, the sacrum, the ilium, the pelvis, for the rear half of the body; and at the thorax for the front half.
Twenty years ago, E. L. Anderson, in his Modern Horsemanship, wrote: "Master H. L. de Bussigny professes that all the resistance of the horse is located in the posterior half of the horse; he is in contradiction with all the other masters, who find the center of resistance in the neck." I regard the iliac region, from the last lumbar vertebra to the end of the sacrum, as the point of union of the fore hand with the hind hand. Here is the junction of these two parts, where they are united by the muscles. If there were not this union, if the volitional impulse came as far as the last dorsal vertebra and there stopped, quadrupedal locomotion would be quite impossible.
All this is assuming that the horse is free from any human interference. But if the horse's spine is carrying a load, we cannot neglect the influence of this weight upon the two parts of the body, which are, by instinct, a unit and under the same acts of will. Their point of union, in my opinion, is this centrifugal region where the forces are assembled. It is like the mechanical coupling which unites the locomotive to the loaded cars behind it. At this point all the pull of the engine is concentrated against the weight opposed to it. If the cars were not loaded, the coupling between the locomotive and the first car would not need to be so strong.
If a horse, when running or jumping, is watched during a fall, it is easy to discover that the forward part of the body gives way first. This is because the hind legs do not come forward in time to act their part as supports. But the hind legs, of themselves, have no power to come forward below the center of gravity. The failure is in the loins, the back, which have not pulled the legs forward in time to lend their support, and thus to prevent the fall of the whole body. Or note how an athlete does a somersault. He leaps into the air, and then, solely by the action of his loins, he turns his feet up and his head down, and then alights upon his feet. Or suppose a man is running and falls. If, as he fell, he could bring his loins into action sufficiently to bring his legs under him, the fall would not occur.
I have dwelt long on this topic of strength of loins in the saddle horse, because it is my thoroughgoing conviction that the various schools of equitation have emphasized overmuch the correctness of movements of the horse's limbs, to the complete neglect of the muscular development of the coupling, a matter which, in fact, they do not even mention. It is to develop this part of the horse's body that I employ the two piaffers, and especially the slow one, just as soon as my mount has attained to a muscular strength sufficient to begin a movement needing so much power at the loins.
I have asked and obtained the slow piaffer by the methods of Baucher and Fillis; but I have always found that this procedure results in great exertion, great fatigue, and very often irritation and incipient stages of revolt. To obviate these drawbacks, I have developed a procedure which has never failed to secure the result at which I aim.
I do not attempt the piaffer until my horse is at the state of perfect equilibrium during all the movements of the progression up to this stage, and is complete as a park hack. Then I commence the slow piaffer. I prefer to begin this late in the autumn, so as to have a whole winter before me.
First of all, I perfect the manege walk to the point where I can myself determine on which diagonal biped the horse shall start. When I am complete master of either diagonal biped, I begin to carry my horse backward, with the same cadence and tempo. I execute six steps forward and six backward. Then I interpolate a slow trot, which I call the recreation trot, and begin again. I keep my horse always straight, and I take special pains to have the strides of the two diagonal bipeds supple and precisely alike. I realize that my horse will need a great muscular development in order to gain in height what he loses in motion forward. Therefore, I use great moderation, and give a large amount of recreative exercise.
After several days, if the work is well done, it becomes apparent that each diagonal biped is staying in the air a slightly longer time than before. At this point, I need to hold on to myself, and to temper my impatience to begin the tempo of the trot. But I continue, I favor, I protect, I recompense, more and more and patiently.
The time comes, always and quite soon, that the horse walks step by step, so slowly that each diagonal biped, in cadence, stays in the air a longer or shorter time. When this habit is completely fixed, I stop the horse and attack him very gently so that he merely feels the pressure of my spurs. When the horse knows that I have the spurs ready at my disposal, I put him at the manege walk, at the slowest possible gait, step by step. Then I begin to activate the entire mechanism, but not by any quicker action of my legs or fingers. I keep the same tempo, with an even more accurately measured power of my effects, and I incline my body slightly forward, so as to shift the center of gravity and lighten the loins. At the slightest disorder, I stop everything, reestablish calm, and begin again.
It is very seldom that I have to start over more than three times before I obtain one or two movements of the loins. For the rider who has not had the experience, it is a strange sensation that he now receives through the seat. As the horse flexes its haunches and hocks below its pelvis, one feels as if the horse were on the point of kicking, first with one leg and then with the other. It is really nothing of that sort. It is simply the first of the two indications that the croup is lifting higher. If, after this first manifestation, you know how to recompense, to calm, and to rest, it becomes easy to secure two or four or six. Do not accept an odd number of actions, because this will tend to make the horse unequal, with one side more indolent or backward than the other.
The rest is easy, merely a question of time, progression, and moderation, in order for the horse to develop the necessary strength. The slower the action, the more difficult and the more brilliant, so long as the horse does not move either forward or backward.
When the slow piaffer begins to be understood, I prepare myself, and at each repetition of very delicate attacks well cadenced, and in the tempo of each step, I lift my hand a little higher, make my fingering more pronounced and precise, and raise the four legs higher and higher, two by two in diagonal. I caress all the body of the horse a great deal, speak to it in an amiable and encouraging voice, and make my horse like the lesson.
Last of all, I complete the training by shifting my own weight from haunch to haunch, without apparent movement of the upper part of my body, or of my hand, arms, thighs, or legs. At first this shifting of my weight from side to side appears to have no effect. Well, then, I begin the slow piaffer by means of my hands and legs; but when the movement is under way, I cease the effect of hands and legs, and begin the balancing on my seat. I have to try several times; and then success is assured.
After each exercise in the time of the piaffer, I carry my horse forward a few steps, bring him to rest, and either abandon him, or let him be free to stretch his spine and neck.
In brief, then, calculate accurately your effects, develop your equestrian tact, keep in your mind the principles which I have always had before me, my deus ex machina. Labor improbus omnia vincit, and you will have won the ne plus ultra of the scientific equitation, the slow piaffer.
My own horse, " Why-Not," does the slow piaffer at the cadence of the walk, without advancing. But the taller a horse is, the more difficult is the slow piaffer for the horse to execute and for the rider to obtain.
As for the pillars, by means of these a horse can be trained to any sort of trick, to kneel down, to extend the legs, to lie down, and the like. But since these tricks are not recognized by the reasoned equitation, there is no need to touch upon them. It is only to obtain the piaffer that the new school admits the use of the pillars, copying in this the principles of the old school.
The horse is put in the pillars, and by means of the whip, is taught to raise and keep up one leg after the other, beginning with the fore limbs. By touching the chest with the whip, alternately on the right and left sides, the horse will very soon learn to raise his fore feet, by flexing his legs at the knees, first at the walk and then at the trot, as the whip is applied more rapidly.
When this movement is obtained from the front legs, the trainer operates in the same way with the hind legs.
This done, the problem is to get all four legs to act together in diagonal. Repeated touches of the whip upon the haunches, given in the cadence of the movement, tend to make the horse go forward. But since cavesson and reins prevent this, the horse becomes more or less excited, and begins to move in diagonal, up and down on the same spot. At this point the trainer stops the horse, caresses him, and begins again.
It must be evident that, by this method, it is not possible to obtain the slow piaffer at the beginning. The first result is always the quick form. This, however, the trainer slows down by calmness and by spacing the touches of the whip farther and farther apart. Weights or bells may be attached at the pasterns to encourage the horse to carry his knees higher and higher.
There has also been invented, I think by Hanhauser, a special harness for the purpose of obtaining the movement in diagonal. A heavily padded strap is fastened to each pastern, and each pair of straps in diagonal, is buckled to the two ends of a rope. These ropes, in their turn, pass through a pulley which is fastened to a strong surcingle so that it comes close to the body at the middle of the lower side of the chest. The ropes are rather tight, so that, when the horse lifts, for example, its right front foot, the pull comes against the left rear one. Since, in addition, the horse is fixed fast in the pillars, there is nothing it can do except to go up and down in diagonal on the same spot. But the piaffer of horses trained by such mechanical methods is never elegant, supple, or brilliant. It suggests the manequins of Mme. Tussaud.
OF all the low airs which a horse can execute, the passage is the most rhythmic, the most artistic, and the most scientific. It is not an artificial gait, but an entirely regular and natural movement. Let a horse of any conformation, trained to any kind of service, be out of the stable and free. He trots at the passage. His head is up, his neck well placed, his tail in the air. Hocks, haunches, knees, and shoulders flex on their centers of motion, high, with energy, cadence, and balance. The back and loins are supple, the nostrils are well opened, and the breathing is deep even to snorting. Every joint is loose. Every limb functions with suppleness, rhythm, elegance. The horse is like a hunting-dog bounding around his master as he holds a shot-gun. He is in the air as if he would fly. (Figures 36, 37.) But, alas, as soon as the harness is on, and the driver is on the box or the rider in the saddle, all this cadence, tempo, rhythm, elegance, departs. The horse becomes heavy, stupid, brutish, without energy, a slave without initiative, a submissive victim when he understands what is wanted and a restive victim when he does not. To raise the harnessed animal to the standard of its natural beauty
in locomotion, to transfer the natural gifts of suppleness and elegance from the horse free to the horse mounted, is the dream, the life dream, the object of life of the masters of the scientific equitation. And I ask the horsemen, the masters from Xenophon to our own epoch, if ever a rider, mounted on a horse at the passage, has forgotten the sensation of that motion!
The passage is too often confounded with the Spanish trot, even by the generality of masters. Yet the difference is complete. More than nine tenths of the Spanish trot is done against resistance; and the fore legs are forcibly extended straight forward at full length. But at the passage, only the fore arm extends forward, the limb being flexed at the knee; and the forward step is only a third the length of the stride in the Spanish trot. Although the Spanish trot may be very beautiful when well performed, it is never so graceful, elegant, and elastic as the passage, probably because the passage is more natural to the horse than the violent exertions of the Spanish trot.
For the Spanish trot is an artificial air, which has been taught to thousands of horses, enslaved by straps, whips, severe bits, and continued repetition. Fillis says, with great truth, "Yet it is certain that the new school is in use everywhere. The man does not any more ride the horse to educate him. All the work is done on foot, with whips and straps, absolutely like the training of monkeys or goats. It is what the public called with irony at Vienna, pudel dressierung, the training of poodle-dogs!"
The passage cannot be taught by this system. It requires a progressive education, based on the principles of the scientific equitation. A great many persons are not able to obtain it for lack of the perfect equestrian tact which inspires in the horse the confidence, the energy, the excess of power needed to make all his bodily mechanism move with cadence and rhythm, and to preserve perfect diagonal action, without the slightest interference of hand, leg, or seat, since this would instantly destroy equilibrium, and with it the rhythm, cadence, and tempo. Certain horses, indeed, by their naturally high and energetic action, do tend of themselves to execute the passage. But even these should be given the same preliminary training as the less energetic animals. Sometimes, also, the action of the fore legs is high and correct enough, while that of the hind legs is low and imperfect. But the passage cannot endure mediocrity of execution. That is painful to feel or to see. The air is possible only when the perfected state of equilibrium can be kept by the horse during all the movements of the progression of the scientific equitation.
The horse needs for the passage, after his complete education, soundness, developed muscles, the proportions of a perfect conformation, energy, a calm yet ardent nature. Most of all, it needs to be mounted by a master with the artistic temperament, who has already, in his youth, spoiled several horses, before being several times successful. One cannot hope to put a horse successfully at the passage until after he has trained five or ten horses. For when a master first begins the passage, the great, the nearly insurmountable difficulty is to obtain the first two or three manifestations of the cadence. But it is absolutely impossible for these first two or three steps to be at all pronounced or decided. They are like the ripples in a teacup compared to the steady undulation of the sea. But if the master does not recognize at once this earliest almost insensible ripple, and so continues to ask it of the horse, the horse becomes more and more confused. Neither understands what is being asked.
These first signs of the passage are, then, I say, very nearly imperceptible. But if they are recognized and rewarded, they are stored in the horse's memory. And since these first steps are the most difficult to obtain, everything possible must be done to fix the lesson in the animal's mind.
Both Fillis and I, at the first adumbrations of the passage, stop the horse, jump down, take off the curb chain and bridle, blanket the horse, give him some pieces of carrot, sugar, or apple, and dismiss him to the stable.
At the next lesson, I bridle the horse myself, using calmness and tact, and have him go through some movements in the state of perfect equilibrium, but avoid any sort of canter or gallop, since these are in lateral biped and will only confuse. Only after the passage is learned, are canter and gallop in order.
When the horse executes these preparatory movements in the condition of equilibrium, bring it to a stand, after passing the second corner of the short side, if you work in a manege, so as to have the length of the long side before you. Here dispose your horse and yourself, calculating accurately and calmly just what you are about to ask, what effects you are to employ, and how.
You are now ready. Your horse is ready. Send your horse forward, step by step, at the manege walk. When you have the cadence of this, begin your diagonal effects. At the slightest derangement, stop, calm your horse, reestablish the perfect order, begin again with the manege walk, and apply the diagonal effects. If you obtain two or three manifestations, two or three ripples of the approaching passage, stop by means of the ensemble, and caress, caress profusely, the neck, loins, and haunches.
Pass the end of the manege and continue on the long side, where, with the horse once more straight, you have space in front of you in case of difficulty. Then again, equilibrium, and forward at the manege walk. Again calculate well and take your time. Do not yourself become excited or too ambitious. If you do, the horse will feel and resent it. Then commence your diagonal effects. Again you obtain the two, three, or four manifestations of the passage. Stop. Caress. Take off the bridle. Carrots. Stable.
The next day the same work, at the same hand. Do not alter anything. Impress, engrave on the horse's memory, these first foreshadowings of the passage.
During this early work on the passage, stay at the side of the manege and do not try the center. If you do, you will be sorry afterwards, for you will send your horse's haunches to the right or left, instead of having them straight. When the signs of the passage become more marked, before asking for the movement, attack the horse very lightly, with the "delicate touch of the spurs" of Gueriniere, or, as I call it, "the honeyed attack." Do this always at the manege walk, and ask the cadence by the calves of the legs only. Obtain three or four steps. Then let go. Begin again. Repeat this, at the utmost, no more than four to six times at each lesson.
At this point, supposing that you have worked properly thus far, I must especially advise that you do not, under any conditions or circumstances, let the horse take the cadence of the passage at its own initiative. Let it do this only when you ask the action by your diagonal effects. Be very sure of this.
When progress begins to be marked, the time has come for a change of hand at each success. Otherwise the diagonal biped that has been nearest the wall will develop more energy or more action. Nothing must be neglected that will make for that perfect equality of squareness, height, energy, gait, and stride, which is the sine qua non of the artistic passage. Do not, moreover, allow your mount to be behind the hand. Accept the passage only when the horse is in contact upon your hand.
Let us now analyze our effects and their consequences.
"The passage is the diminutive of the piaffer. In this air, the horse raises its legs as in the trot; but he advances only imperceptibly and at tempo.
"For this work, the talent of the cavalier consists, not in making continually an opposition with the bridle each time that the leg acts, but in so well concentrating all the forces at the center, as for the piaffer, that, with the reins loosened, the horse advances only imperceptibly by an excess of action. It is easy to see that there is necessary a complete assemblage, in order that the horse may execute with regularity this brilliant and scientific air of equitation."
I am, with some minor differences, of the same opinion as the grand master; but it must be confessed that it will be very difficult for the student to obtain the passage with only the data, principles, and lessons. Baucher is correct in saying that the reins are to be loose and that the opposition of the hand is not necessary, provided the horse is already at the air. But before the movement is obtained, the opposition of the hand is essential, since it is by an excess of the effects of our legs that we not only keep the horse in equilibrium, but also gain in weight of action what we lose in forward progress. A locomotive needs a much greater initial force to start the train than to keep it running after it has reached full speed; and in something the same way in the case of the horse, a second force has to be added to that which produces motion forward, in order to make the action higher and slower. But so far as this second force is located outside the total mechanism of the horse's body, it cannot arise except by the opposition of the hand, even though this is as light as can be made. If the horse, in a state of freedom, acts the air spontaneously, it is because the creature understands by its natural instinct how to equilibrize its forces. But this natural instinct becomes paralyzed just as soon as we interfere with our weight or by our lack of tact.
Fillis is clearer and more explicit. He holds, and rightly, that the horse's education should be complete before the passage is attempted. This means that the horse can take and keep the state of assemblage during the execution of every movement in the progression up to that point. The "in hand," the equilibrium, must be perfect, and retained without excitement or fatigue. The horse being then at the manege walk, the rider's legs close as near as possible to the girths. The horse is perfectly calm. The left spur attacks; and immediately after it, the right. The timing of these attacks is that of the "one, two; one, two; lunge" in fencing. Or, since many riders do not fence, it is very nearly the tick of the second-hand of a watch. At the touch of the left spur, the horse, surprised, raises its left hind leg and moves its body toward the right. Then, at precisely the right instant, comes the right spur to prevent the haunches from swinging to the right, and also to lift the right leg. Then again the left spur with the reversed effect; and so alternately. After four such trials, whether successful or not, stop, calm your horse, and begin again.
The master or the student must impress upon his mind exactly what he desires to obtain and the means by which he is to obtain it. If what has been written above has been studied and understood, it should be clear that the point is to utilize the animal's forces in such wise as to secure height at the expense of progress. Evidently, it will be by the opposition of the hand that the motion forward will be checked and converted into motion up. Thus the propulsive force generated by the attacks of the spurs, which tends to drive the horse forward, is received upon the hand. The fingers close upon the reins just at the instant of the forward push. The result is that the fore leg flexes with the knee up and forward, the foot down. Simultaneously with this, the opposite rear leg comes up, and the horse balances upon a diagonal biped.
Consider, for example, the first manifestation of the passage on the right lateral biped. We have, in this case, the right front leg and the left hind leg operated by the right diagonal effect; that is to say, by the opposition of the right rein and the attack of the left spur. The right diagonal biped is now up. Then follows the opposition of the left rein and the attack of the right spur, which force the right diagonal biped to return to the ground before the left diagonal biped can be raised. The left diagonal biped now lifts by the same effects as the right and in the same cadence, and we have two steps of the passage. Again, right rein and left spur, and the left diagonal biped returns to the ground as the other lifts. Once more comes the left rein and the right spur, the bipeds reverse, and we have four steps of the passage.
The essential means are, evidently, the attacks of the spurs. At the first touch, the horse is surprised. At the second, the surprise is increased. At the third, the animal becomes worried. At the fourth, he is very near to a revolt, because he does not understand what his rider asks. If now the rider continues the attacks, the horse will be driven into a complete revolt. The spurs will bleed him. He has no idea what it all means. This will be utter brutality, without the slightest chance of success.
Sometimes the animal, all at sea as to what is wanted of him, goes crazy. As Fillis expresses it, "He plays his all, and completely loses his head." In that condition, he may be dangerous, not only at the time, but for the future. One must, therefore, make ample preparation, take plenty of time, be always moderate, calm, persevering, and patient. If in these four attacks you obtain any sort of small beginning of a leap from one diagonal biped to the other, rest satisfied for the time, and be generous of your recompense and caresses. But, for pity's sake, do not condemn your horse for a fault which is mostly your own. Be sure you are right before every demand; and do not form your opinion too soon.
Finally, be sure that the surface on which the horse practices the passage is properly soft and elastic, lest its feet become sore, to its discouragement. Stay as much as possible near the wall, and keep the horse straight. Change the hand sometimes, but not too often. Let the horse frequently stop and be free. Ask little; but ask well. Be satisfied if the first sign of the desired cadence is from one biped only. So far as possible, work alone in the manege. Catch your pupil's attention and hold it on yourself. In a word, make him enjoy his lessons at the passage. Success depends upon you and upon nobody else. Remember that you cannot buy the accomplishment. You have to create it for yourself.
There are, in addition, several more or less intelligent and progressive mechanical devices for obtaining the passage; but these are not accepted by the strictly scientific equitation.
Baucher and Fillis employed a logical progression, when they used the Spanish walk and the Spanish trot as a preliminary to the passage. This, moreover, has been the order generally accepted by the equestrian world; since, of course, horses which already have the idea of sustaining and lifting their weight on diagonal bipeds, in cadence and tempo, will the more quickly understand the passage, and will require less equestrian tact on the part of the rider. I also, in my youth, like other trainers, approached the passage by way of the Spanish trot. But when, later, I came to look upon the passage as the result of perfect equilibrium, I came also to understand that the passage is impossible until one has obtained, first the assemblage, and then the piaffer, to give the idea of the diagonal action. Then, after the piaffer, comes the passage, with the extension of the fore legs and the flexion of the hocks and haunches.
THE passage backward follows from the piaffer, and therefore presupposes a horse educated to the perfect state of assemblage and equilibrium.
A horse at the slow piaffer—which is, of course, the only form of the piaffer considered by the scientific equitation— balances itself on the same spot, all four legs flexing at the knees and hocks, but without gaining ground. The center of gravity is, therefore, midway of the body, and exactly under the seat of the rider. Under these conditions, the horse is like a large ball which rests upon a smooth and level surface, with which it is in contact, only at one end of a diameter. Evidently, the slightest force applied at the other end of this diameter will send the ball rolling in the direction of the force. So, in the piaffer, a force applied alternately on the two sides of the center of gravity makes the horse receive its weight alternately on its two diagonal bipeds. As the center of gravity shifts to the right, the left diagonal biped is raised, and vice versa.
If, then, under these conditions, the rider leans forward, the horse must move forward, under the operation of the same law. But if, when the horse is lifting his legs in diagonal alternately upon the same spot, the rider's weight is inclined backward, the
alternate change from side to side still continuing, then the horse will trot backward. The hand has nothing to do with the action, except to maintain the equilibrium, by means of the fingering.
When once the piaffer is obtained, the backward trot follows without much difficulty; but the movement needs moderation, and should begin with a few steps at first, the number increasing with practice. (Figure 38.)
The speed of the backward trot is not the test of its execution. A three-inch step, taken equally by each diagonal biped, and with the same cadence, tempo, and elevation as for the piaffer, is proof of a better equilibrium and a better training, than is any precipitate rush rearward in which the horse avoids the state of equilibrium by moving as it pleases. The air should always seem to be executed without exertion and without compulsion. The horse balances itself with an easy action of the limbs in diagonal, moves backward, returns to the piaffer, changes into the passage, returns to the piaffer, takes the backward trot. The rider's hands are immobile. The position of his body, as it swings like a pendulum into the correct place, is the force which actuates the mechanism.
With this animal mechanism, the backward trot is in perfect accord. The movement is entirely natural, when it is done in equilibrium from the piaffer. But if it is obtained by severity of hand, spurs, or whip, it becomes precisely contrary to the horse's nature. It is then dangerous to the rider, because the horse, pulled backward by the bridle, may rear and fall.
However, the trot backward cannot properly be considered a gait of the horse. It is serviceable only for perfecting the equilibrium, and for suppling the entire hind hand, most especially the coupling.
IN the gallop on three legs, the horse uses both hind limbs; but only one in front, and holds the other in the air. Before the movement is asked, the horse must already be able to maintain a complete and permanent equilibrium during the ordinary gallop, to execute the jambette at the diagonal effect with great precision and with complete extension of the front leg, and to gallop, not terre-a-terre, but very slowly. (Figures 39, 40.)
The movement is asked by decomposing the air into its elements. The horse gallops slowly in assemblage. The rider stops it, and by means of the right snaffle rein and the left spur, asks immediately the jambette. After the jambette, the horse is allowed to walk. Again the gallop, the stop, and the jambette immediately. These three are repeated for whatever time is needed to calm the horse, and to teach it to keep straight when stopped and giving the jambette.
When the horse has mastered this exercise, the gallop is asked immediately after the jambette, without the intervening walk. From the gallop, the horse is stopped as before, made to give the jambette, and then started again at the gallop. Again, stop, jambette, start. Never change the lead; always keep working on the same side.
After a certain time, it always comes about that the horse executes the jambette just before it comes to the stop, partly of its own volition, and partly at the effects of the rider's hand and legs. The great point is, then, to seize upon this first single step of the gallop combined with the jambette or, in other words, of the gallop on three legs. When you have one — one only — caress with all your heart and send to the stable.
The next day, the same procedure. The horse, as before, does one step of the gallop with the jambette held. Once more, caress, dismount, caress again, and to the stable.
After a few days, get two steps of the gallop on three legs; then the next day, four. Continue in this way, but do not ask too much. When the horse does, let us say, five steps at the lead which he has been taught, change the lead and commence from the beginning precisely as before. Do not accept the slightest degree of confusion or mistake. Lean the body forward on the side of the jambette and push the horse forward with the legs.
Fillis advocates using the left leg to secure and maintain the jambette, and also to continue the gallop. I have, at various times and with different horses, obtained the jambette by holding the right snaffle rein in the right hand, high, and the curb reins low in the left in order to maintain the horse's head near the perpendicular, while my legs confine themselves to the effects needed for the gallop.
It is evident that, to obtain the gallop on three legs, the horse must be morally and physically perfect, or else have been adequately developed by its previous training. Moreover, the rider must himself possess delicate equestrian tact, and have perfect control over his effects. Even then, he will not always be successful, unless he has already educated several horses in the scientific equitation.
The gallop on three legs is a beautiful demonstration of the power of the man's effects over the animal; but it is of use only for this purpose and in the manege. Outside the manege, the air has no value whatever. It is, then, reasonable enough to teach the air to the manege horse, but not to horses that are for other service; and in general I think that the strength of the horse and the tact of the rider are better spent on more useful movements. I even go so far as to say that the gallop on three legs is a source of danger both in the case of a beginner and of a master who is training an animal for some one else to ride. For if the rider of a horse trained to the gallop on three legs is not a thoroughly competent esquire, he will not always use exactly the correct means to obtain the change of lead at the gallop, the change of direction, or the stop. He may, in that case, start the horse to galloping on three legs — to its great confusion.
Moreover, during the gallop on three legs, the horse is completely on his haunches. The hind legs carry all the weight, advance by very short steps, and always very close to the ground. Therefore, unless the horse is sent forward by the weight of the rider and by a strong effect of legs and spurs coupled with great tact of hand, the creature is exactly in the position to rear high. The gallop on three legs, like the gallop backward, demands a combination of favorable conditions as to both horse and rider that is in practice pretty difficult to find.
Considering, then, the danger to the horse's hocks and to its temper, and the peril to the rider, I cannot feel that the usefulness of the gait at all compensates for the wear and tear on the one or the risk to the other. Fillis has, indeed, executed the air most brilliantly, on the different occasions when he has exhibited his horses. I have performed the feat with several different animals. But, on the whole, the game has not been worth the candle.
THIS form of the gallop is a slow canter, in which the lead changes rhythmically from one biped to the other with each completion of a fixed number of steps. For example, the horse gallops ten steps to the right, and then on the eleventh it changes and gallops ten steps to the left. On the twentyfirst step it returns to the right-hand lead; and so on.
The difficulty is for the rider to keep count of the steps, since the air demands for its correct performance that the number shall always be exactly the same. Moreover, at its best, the movement requires the change of lead at every step — one stride with lead to the right, then the change to the left, then one stride with lead to the left, and again the change back to the right, thus continuing indefinitely. Naturally, this demands thorough training for the horse and the highest equestrian tact from the rider.
Both Baucher and Fillis have performed this air with remarkable evenness of rhythm. Fillis, also, once upon a time, laid a heavy wager with certain amateur horsemen, who denied the possibility of the gallop a tempo, that he would ride from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde, with a change of lead after every step. The grand master won.
In training a horse for this air, the change of lead should be at first only once in every twenty steps. Afterwards, with the greatest patience and moderation, the number is reduced progressively. The exercise demands great energy from the horse, which must throughout remain perfectly calm. Whatever the number of steps between changes of lead, this must always remain unvaried.
For the gallop backward, the horse must be of perfect conformation, especially in its hind quarters, and must be educated to the point where it can interpret almost imperceptible effects of the rider. Its equilibrium and assemblage must be perfect—the sine qua non of this air, since the gait is very precise and the beats equal and uniform—and its strength must be sufficient to sustain without apparent exertion the gallop terre-à-terre. (Figure 41.)
In the gallop terre-à-terre, as in the piaffer, the horse is like a ball resting on one pole and movable by the slightest force. If, then, the rider's effects, by their lack of equality, timing, fineness, or uniformity, disturb this perfect equilibrium, the gallop terre-à-terre becomes impossible. But if the rider's effects are precisely correct, the horse will continue to gallop on the same spot, like the ball resting on a pole. Under these conditions, if the rider's weight shifts on the seat to throw the center of gravity backward of the perpendicular around which the whole mechanism has centered, the horse will be forced to move backward in order to prevent falling.
Meanwhile, of course, the rider, by his effects, must continue to maintain the equilibrium and the gait of the gallop. If either is disturbed ("evaporated" is the expression I use with my pupils), the horse loses either its equilibrium and then its gallop, or else its gallop and then its equilibrium. In either case, the movement becomes dislocated and impossible.
But the swing of the rider's body should never be a stiff inclination backward of a rigid spine. The weight is, at the beginning, immobile upon the saddle. Then for the change, the rider's spine plays back and forth, flexing at the coupling between the sacrum and the last lumbar vertebra, in time with each beat of the gallop and at the precise instant when the horse's two hind feet are off the ground, and the right fore leg only is bearing the weight—assuming that the backward gallop starts from the gallop terre-à-terre on the right lateral biped. This translation of the weight by the flexion of the coupling is to be repeated at each beat of the stride. Meanwhile, the rider's legs have to sustain the equilibrium and to hold the contact of the horse's mouth with the bits.
If, now, the rider, as he swings his weight, merely closes his fingers, without moving his hand, the horse will gallop backward, one step only, but still one step. That obtained, stop everything, yield everything, and caress. When the horse has become calm, forward again at the walk and the terre-à-terre at the same hand as before. Be quiet yourself; flex your spine; finger. Another step backward. That is enough for the time being. Dismount; and to the stable. The next day, the same progression.
After a few days, you will be able to obtain three or four backward steps. When the horse executes these calmly at the hand at which it was first taught, change the lead and repeat the same work at the new hand. Always keep the horse straight and forward. Better work near the wall, as this will aid in keeping the straight position.
If the horse is to be completely educated in the scientific equitation, it is better to teach the gallop backward before the gallop on three legs. Otherwise, the horse may give the gallop on three legs when asked for the gallop terre-à-terre. You cannot punish it for a mistake like this, and the result is confusion. But if the horse has thoroughly learned the terre-à-terre and the backward gallop, it is a far easier matter to push it forward against the contact, and so change from the terre-à-terre to the gallop on three legs, than to restrain it from the gallop on three legs to the gallop terre-à-terre.
In beginning either the terre-à-terre or the gallop backward, do not accept from the horse the slightest sign of being behind the hand. If you feel this at all, use your legs vigorously and push the animal forward upon the hand. The rider can always detect this tendency to stay behind the hand; and should correct it by giving three minutes of good, energetic promenade trot. For this purpose, I prefer the trot to the gallop, since at the gallop one lateral biped tends to get more work than the other, unless the rider takes pains to change hands. In any case, the gallop does not give so complete a disposition of the animal's forces as does the trot.
The "in hand" for the gallop backward is between the "upon the hand" and "behind the hand." A horse upon the hand lifts its front legs too high and its hind legs not high enough. But if the rider livens it by the action of his own legs, the horse rears or points forward. If the horse is behind the hand, the fore legs do not lift sufficiently, and the tempo of the gallop is not exact. It is, however, not possible to describe completely the sensation which comes to the rider's hand, and only by experience can the rider determine whether he is right or wrong.
In fine, then, perfect equilibrium, terre-à-terre, perfect equilibrium, flexion of the rider's coupling, fingering, moderation, and good fortune. The backward gallop proves uncommon suppleness on the part of the horse, together with great strength in the haunches. On the part of the rider, it proves high equestrian tact. Yet the position which the horse takes and the action of its legs are far from graceful, and the utility of the air is debatable. It risks the soundness of the horse's hocks, and it is certainly not worth attempting by a beginner, who has to spoil several horses physically and morally before he attains to the tact and the accuracy of seat essential to the gallop backward without danger.
And yet, for any rider, experience with the gallop
backward cannot be other than very limited. Very few esquires have ever obtained the movement. I know of only Baucher and Fillis, and even they with only two or three horses each. Moreover, it is absurd for any one to think that any horse can do the backward gallop really well for more than a few strides, because of the great energy demanded.
I give (Figures 42, 43) as illustrations of the movement, Fillis mounted upon "Germinal," and myself upon "Why-Not," in order that the reader may compare the leg action of the two horses at the same gait. "Germinal" is fifteen hands, three inches high: "Why-Not" is sixteen hands, three inches. Although the backward gallop is the last refinement of equilibrium possible to the horse, it is in itself pleasant neither for the horse nor for the spectator. "Why-Not" is the fourth animal from which I have obtained it, not for my own satisfaction, but for the sake of making a picture for this book, in which I set forth nothing that I have not myself done.
And now, finally, at the end of this last chapter on horse gymnastics, I beg the reader to review the illustrations, and to compare the several pictures of "Why-Not" before his training and at the various stages of his development during the course and at the end. These photographs prove amply the muscular improvement accomplished during the horse's education.
"Hands without legs, legs without hands," is the name applied to a new principle in equitation enunciated by Baucher only a few years before his death. It resulted in a schism among horsemen, and the new ideas were opposed by many masters and esquires.
I have myself experimented with the new methods upon horses of very different qualities. My own conclusion is that the system is practicable only for a very able horseman training an animal of very superior endowments, both physical and mental. I do not regard the scheme as workable for any rider dealing with a horse of inferior conformation, or for an inexperienced rider dealing with any sort of horse.
For it must be evident that, with a horse of superior conformation, the state of equilibrium is both more easily obtained and more easily kept by the ordinary principles of the reasoned and the scientific equitation, hands and legs being used together for the different movements, than with an inferior animal. Moreover, the less perfectly conformed the animal is, the more difficult is it to maintain the state of equilibrium, even with the aid of hands and legs together.
In other words, with a well-conformed horse, the state of equilibrium is very easy for a practiced rider and very difficult for a novice. With a badly conformed horse, the desired state is difficult for the experienced esquire, and very nearly impossible for the inexperienced, even if they both employ both hands and legs.
It comes about, then, that, whether the horse be well or ill conformed, it has to be trained to the condition of equilibrium by means of both hands and legs. But the horse once trained, though not before, it becomes possible to preserve the state of equilibrium by means of the rider's legs without the cooperation of his hands, or by means of his hands without the cooperation of his legs.
But now arises the question, how does accuracy of seat act upon the center of gravity, which is the immediate sequence of the state of equilibrium? The answer is, that this equilibrium is a unit, and the center of gravity is an element. We obtain this unified condition by the accord of our effects of hands and of legs. But if, when we have obtained this unit condition, we employ more effect of hands or more effect of legs in order to execute a movement, we at once disturb the original unity. Thereupon the equilibrium vacillates between the hands and the legs, and does not remain permanently anywhere.
On the other hand, by means of accuracy of seat, we are able to act upon this unified condition of equilibrium without destroying it. I am the first to enunciate this principle of the efficiency of accuracy of seat. I know that I shall be the object of criticism; but I consent to accept this. Beati pauperes spiritu, regnum cœli habent.